It's a question many New Yorkers ask when they see the rents advertised in the city's new buildings — Who can afford to live there?
Plenty, it turns out.
New York City has the nation’s largest number of high-income earners living in rental housing with more than 211,000 households earning more than $150,000 annually, according to an analysis by apartment search website RentCafe.
As fears of gentrification sweep across the boroughs, several neighborhoods have seen exponential growth of such wealthy renters between 2011 and 2015, according to an analysis compiled by RentCafe for DNAinfo New York, using Census data from 2015 broken down by zip code.
Housing is generally considered affordable if you're paying no more than 30 percent of your income on rent. So a household earning $150,000 would be able to afford $3,750 a month in rent.
The Eastchester and Baychester areas in The Bronx, which include Co-op City and the Bay Plaza shopping center, saw a 230 percent increase in high-income renters, jumping from roughly 150 households in 2011 to nearly 500 in 2015.
In the 11370 zip code covering parts of East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, there was about a 200 percent increase from roughly 130 families to 400.
With the Hudson Yards development and new rental buildings popping up in Midtown West, there’s been a big uptick in high-income earners, too. The 10018 zip code, stretching from Fifth Avenue to the Hudson River between about West 35th and West 41st streets, saw a 196 percent increase in households earning more than $150,000, from nearly 500 to more than 1,450.
Other areas that saw large increases in wealthy renters included the 11216 zip code of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, the 11214 zip code, that covers Bensonhurst, Bath Beach and part of Gravesend, and The Bronx’s 10458 zip code, including Belmont, Fordham Heights and Fordham Manor.
Long Island City’s waterfront zip code of 11109, where new construction has been booming, saw an influx of wealthy renters, as did Bushwick’s 11237 zip code, the 11211 zip code including parts of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, and the 11206 zip code, also covering parts of Williamsburg, Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant.
“It’s largely a list of places where we know rents are rising, displacement is happening and gentrification is occurring,” said Emily Goldstein, of the Association of Neighborhood and Housing Development advocacy group.
“As different populations move into a neighborhood the feel shifts, the amenities to serve residents change, behavior on streets or in parks shift. There are a variety of subtle things in terms of expectations of behavior and who belongs.”
When higher income residents begin moving in, it also alters the expectations of landlords.
“It changes the incentives, the levels of pressure and the point at which different landlords are inclined to make an effort to get tenants out,” Goldstein said.
Angel Vera, a housing organizer with the nonprofit Make the Road New York, said the change in demographics has been especially rapid in Bushwick, where the median household income is about $37,000 a year.
As wealthier residents move in, tenants in rent stabilized apartments — which account for roughly 35 percent of the rental stock, Vera said — have been feeling pressured to leave.
“It’s painful what’s happening, especially in the Latino community,” Vera said.
“Real estate is very active here. A lot of buildings have been sold and the new owners want to kick out the low-income tenants. Many new landlords threaten to go to immigration or [the Administration for Children’s Services].”
When he was doing outreach more than a year ago, he met a family with a 3-month old baby — the remaining holdouts in a rent stabilized building that a landlord was trying to clear for a sale to a new owner.
After the tenants called 311 to complain about not having heat, the landlord threatened to call ACS on them for living in an apartment without heat.
“They got so scared,” Vera recalled. When he went to visit a few days after their conversation with the landlord, they were gone.